In social media marketing, whenever a door closes, another one has opened. Changes in technology constantly give marketers new opportunities while making old options obsolete. The quicker your association adapts, the better you will be at using social media to your advantage.
As 2017 approaches, be prepared for:
Image messaging apps, which allow smartphone users to edit and send pictures and short videos, have quickly grown in popularity. Developers will expand these apps further next year, notably by creating glasses that take pictures from a first-person perspective. Marketers will thus have a range of new options for live content. Current and prospective members will receive live updates and short videos from associations they follow, giving them quick access to details they would otherwise have had to search for. Marketers can thus cultivate member interest in a more direct, seamless way.
New visual and audio capabilities come with their own challenges. Because consumers are now integrated into experiences remotely, they will demand content worth their full attention. Associations must use the technology to integrate users in an engaging and informative way. Possible strategies include sending live videos of association events, posting 360° images, and sending out selfies with endorsers or at community events. The more members feel connected to the day-to-day experiences of an association, the more likely they are to stay engaged.
Integrating members into an association’s experiences requires considerable creative effort, which isn't possible if an organization devotes its time to more mundane concerns. Chatbots, or automated conversation programs, will soon take over rote tasks, freeing up time and energy for more imaginative endeavors. You can program a chatbot to answer questions, navigate your website, or otherwise help members resolve simple issues. Chatbots are expected to increase in both popularity and sophistication during 2017, allowing associations to automate ever more complicated tasks.
Most social media content is permanent once it has been posted. While this can be useful if you need to dig up old photos or posts for your association, it also results in an information overload, making it more difficult for readers to find or remember new content. To keep new posts from losing their power, many social media apps now make content that expires. A video, post, or picture will be available for first-time viewers, but will go away once a person sees it or a certain amount of time has passed. The right expiration point varies from user to user, however, so many apps will give users the option of retrieving old content for a limited time after it has expired or of saving it while it is live.
Small startups have long played a powerful role in social media, but larger companies have begun to absorb them, and experts expect this trend to continue in 2017. Industry giants like Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter are buying all the apps and websites they can and integrating them with their other products. This will be a mixed blessing for marketers. On one hand, it will allow associations to more easily integrate their marketing strategies along a larger number of platforms, helping them send a more consistent message. On the other, it will mean less competition and choice, giving marketers less leeway if they don't like something.
Social media never stands still, and neither does an effective marketing team. If your association can adapt to the changes of 2017, you'll be able to engage with members, convert prospects, and expand for years to come.
John Foley is the President and CEO/CMO of interlinkONE and Grow Socially, Inc., a marketing services company and affiliated partner of many associations from a wide range of industries. John his team have worked with associations for nearly 20 years to create successful marketing strategies that aim to generate more leads, increase engagement, and improve member satisfaction. Along with being named to the Forbes Top 50 CMOs on Social Media, John and his team launched AwarenessHub, a social media platform designed to help associations grow and allow them to connect with members on a national and local level. Learn more about John at JohnFoleyJr.com, and AwarenessHub at AwarenessHub.com.